By: Kirsten Fowler
Part 2 of the series “The Unfair Affair.” In Part 1 I discussed the risk factors that may contribute to an affair to better understand the question many have of “Why did this happen?” In Part 2 I will discuss the aftermath, or what to do after the affair.
Are My Feelings Normal?
If you just recently learned about your partner’s affair, you will likely have many different emotions brewing. Here are some of the common feelings, as stated in the book by Douglas K. Snyder and his associates, “Getting Past the Affair”:
These emotions are normal reactions to a traumatic event. In fact, many people who experience the trauma from an affair report to have symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It may also be helpful to understand that as a victim of infidelity you may go through what scholars call, the Five Stages of Grief:
Keep in mind that you won’t necessarily go through the stages in order and you might even go back to a stage several times.
If you are the offending partner, it is important to accept and try to understand some of the emotions your partner may be feeling right now. It will also be beneficial for you to realize some of the normal emotions you may cycle through. These emotions include feelings of depression, confusion, guilt, doubt, and helplessness. Expressing the emotions to your spouse may be beneficial, but this can be difficult after such a significant event. Using a resource such as a licensed marriage counselor can help you better understand your spouse’s emotions and express yours.
I Have So Many Questions…Where Do I Start?
Although it is painful, there are some questions that need to be asked once an affair is uncovered. The following is a list of important questions that the victimized partner should consider asking:
Going through these questions with your partner enables healing, aids in understanding, and increases the likelihood of keeping the marriage intact. In addition to the above questions, there are other things that should be discussed in order to keep moving forward in your life:
Why Should I Forgive?
Taking time to communicate with your partner and work through the questions listed above can help you in the forgiveness process. An affair is one of the most damaging events that can happen to a marriage, so although forgiveness will be difficult, it is extremely important. Whether or not you and your partner stay together, forgiveness must be there in order to fully heal and move forward.
In an article published for the Journal of Family Therapy entitled, “Facilitating Forgiveness in the Treatment of Infidelity: An Interpersonal Model,” you can gain great insight as to how this can take place and why it is important. The article focusses on four elements and expands upon them as follows:
Once these things have been addressed, you can now make an informed decision on how to move forward. In the next article, Part 3 of “The Unfair Affair,” I will take a look at how to make such a decision.
Research for this blog was primarily obtained from “Getting Past The Affair: A Program to help you cope, heal, and move on- together or apart,” by Douglas K. Snyder and associates, and “Not Just Friends: Rebuilding trust and Recovering Your Sanity After Infidelity,” by Shirley Glass. All other research based on peer-reviewed journal articles as stated or linked.